Structure of the metastatic factor P-Rex1 reveals a two-layered autoinhibitory mechanism

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P-Rex (PI(3,4,5)P3-dependent Rac exchanger) guanine nucleotide exchange factors potently activate Rho GTPases. P-Rex guanine nucleotide exchange factors are autoinhibited, synergistically activated by Gβγ and PI(3,4,5)P3 binding and dysregulated in cancer. Here, we use X-ray crystallography, cryogenic electron microscopy and crosslinking mass spectrometry to determine the structural basis of human P-Rex1 autoinhibition. P-Rex1 has a bipartite structure of N- and C-terminal modules connected by a C-terminal four-helix bundle that binds the N-terminal Pleckstrin homology (PH) domain. In the N-terminal module, the Dbl homology (DH) domain catalytic surface is occluded by the compact arrangement of the DH-PH-DEP1 domains. Structural analysis reveals a remarkable conformational transition to release autoinhibition, requiring a 126° opening of the DH domain hinge helix. The off-axis position of Gβγ and PI(3,4,5)P3 binding sites further suggests a counter-rotation of the P-Rex1 halves by 90° facilitates PH domain uncoupling from the four-helix bundle, releasing the autoinhibited DH domain to drive Rho GTPase signaling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767–773
Number of pages25
JournalNature Structural & Molecular Biology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

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